Measure for Measure

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Angelo, Escalus, and Servants, Justice


We must not make a scarecrow of the law,

Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
fear (v.) 1 frighten, scare, terrify, daunt

And let it keep one shape, till custom make it

Their perch and not their terror.


                         Ay, but yet

Let us be keen and rather cut a little
keen (adj.) 2 perceptive, sensitive, shrewd

Than fall, and bruise to death. Alas, this gentleman,
bruise (v.) 2 crush, smash, destroy
fall (v.) 1 drop, descend, let fall

Whom I would save, had a most noble father.

Let but your honour know,

Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue,
strait (adj.) 2 strict, rigorous, scrupulous

That, in the working of your own affections,
affection (n.) 3 desire, passion, lustful feeling

Had time cohered with place or place with wishing,
cohere (v.) agree, accord, hold together

Or that the resolute acting of your blood
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]

Could have attained th' effect of your own purpose,
effect (n.) 1 result, end, outcome, fulfilment
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

Whether you had not sometime in your life

Erred in this point which now you censure him,
censure (v.) 3 pass judgement on, condemn, pronounce sentence on

And pulled the law upon you.


'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,

Another thing to fall. I not deny,

The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
pass (v.) 17 pass sentence, adjudicate

May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two

Guiltier than him they try; what's open made to justice,

That justice seizes; what knows the laws

That thieves do pass on thieves? 'Tis very pregnant,
pregnant (adj.) 2 obvious, clear, evident

The jewel that we find, we stoop and take't

Because we see it; but what we do not see

We tread upon, and never think of it.

You may not so extenuate his offence
extenuate (v.) mitigate, lessen, tone down

For I have had such faults; but rather tell me,
fault (n.) 3 failing, weakness

When I, that censure him, do so offend,
censure (v.) 3 pass judgement on, condemn, pronounce sentence on

Let mine own judgement pattern out my death
pattern out (v.) be a pattern for, act as a precedent for

And nothing come in partial. Sir, he must die.
partial, in with partiality, in a biased manner

Enter Provost


Be it as your wisdom will.


                         Where is the provost?


Here, if it like your honour.
like (v.) 1 please, suit See Topics: Politeness


                         See that Claudio

Be executed by tomorrow morning:

Bring his confessor, let him be prepared;

For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage.
pilgrimage (n.) journey, passage, voyage

Exit Provost


Well, heaven forgive him, and forgive us all.

Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall:

Some run from brakes of office, and answer none,
brake (n.) 2 entanglement, snare, restriction
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count

And some condemned for a fault alone.
fault (n.) 2 mistake, error, blunder

Enter Elbow, Froth, Pompey, Officers


Come, bring them away. If these be good people

in a commonweal that do nothing but use their abuses
abuse (n.) 4 corrupt practice, wicked way
commonweal, commonwealth (n.) state, nation, community, body politic

in common houses, I know no law. Bring them away.


How now, sir, what's your name? And what's

the matter?


If it please your honour, I am the poor Duke's

constable, and my name is Elbow. I do lean upon

justice, sir, and do bring in here before your good

honour two notorious benefactors.
benefactor (n.) malapropism for ‘malefactor’


Benefactors? Well, what benefactors are they?

Are they not malefactors?


If it please your honour, I know not well what they

are; but precise villains they are, that I am sure of, and

void of all profanation in the world that good Christians

ought to have.


This comes off well. Here's a wise officer.
come off (v.) 4 turn out, result


Go to. What quality are they of? Elbow is your
quality (n.) 4 profession, occupation, business

name? Why dost thou not speak, Elbow?


He cannot, sir. He's out at elbow.
elbow, out at in bad condition


What are you, sir?


He, sir? A tapster, sir, parcel-bawd; one that
parcel-bawd (n.) part-time pimp
tapster (n.) inn waiter, drawer of ale

serves a bad woman, whose house, sir, was, as they say,

plucked down in the suburbs, and now she professes a
profess (v.) 4 make profession of, do as an occupation

hot-house, which I think is a very ill house too.
hot-house (n.) brothel; bath-house
ill (adj.) 2 evil, wicked, immoral


How know you that?


My wife, sir, whom I detest before heaven and
detest (v.) 2 malapropism for ‘protest’

your honour –


How? Thy wife?


Ay, sir, whom I thank heaven is an honest

woman –


Dost thou detest her therefore?


I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as she,

that this house, if it be not a bawd's house, it is pity

of her life, for it is a naughty house.
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between See Topics: Frequency count
naughty (adj.) 1 wicked, evil, vile


How dost thou know that, constable?


Marry, sir, by my wife, who, if she had been a

woman cardinally given, might have been accused in
cardinally (adv.) malapropism for ‘carnally’

fornication, adultery, and all uncleanliness there.


By the woman's means?


Ay, sir, by Mistress Overdone's means; but as

she spit in his face, so she defied him.


Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.


Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable
varlet (n.) 1 knave, rogue, rascal, ruffian

man, prove it.


Do you hear how he misplaces?
misplace (v.) put words in the wrong place


Sir, she came in great with child, and longing –

saving your honour's reverence – for stewed prunes.
stewed prune prostitute, bawd, whore

Sir, we had but two in the house, which at that very

distant time stood, as it were, in a fruit dish, a dish of

some threepence; your honours have seen such dishes;

they are not china dishes, but very good dishes.


Go to, go to; no matter for the dish, sir.


No, indeed, sir, not of a pin; you are therein in
pin (n.) 1 trifle, triviality, insignificant amount

the right: but to the point. As I say, this Mistress

Elbow, being, as I say, with child, and being great-bellied,

and longing, as I said, for prunes, and having

but two in the dish, as I said, Master Froth here, this

very man, having eaten the rest, as I said, and, as I

say, paying for them very honestly, for, as you know,

Master Froth, I could not give you threepence again.


No, indeed.


Very well: you being then, if you be remembered,

cracking the stones of the foresaid prunes –
foresaid (adj.) aforesaid


Ay, so I did, indeed.


Why, very well: I telling you then, if you be

remembered, that such a one and such a one were past

cure of the thing you wot of, unless they kept very good
wot (v.) 1 learn, know, be told See Topics: Frequency count

diet, as I told you –
diet (n.) 3 therapeutic nutrition, curative regime


All this is true.


Why, very well then –


Come, you are a tedious fool. To the purpose.
purpose (n.) 2 point at issue, matter in hand

What was done to Elbow's wife, that he hath cause to

complain of? Come me to what was done to her.


Sir, your honour cannot come to that yet.


No, sir, nor I mean it not.


Sir, but you shall come to it, by your honour's

leave. And, I beseech you look into Master Froth here,

sir; a man of fourscore pound a year, whose father died

at Hallowmas. Was't not at Hallowmas, Master Froth?


Allhallond Eve.


Why, very well. I hope here be truths. He, sir,

sitting, as I say, in a lower chair, sir – 'twas in the

Bunch of Grapes, where indeed you have a delight to sit,

have you not?


I have so, because it is an open room and good for
open (adj.) 1 public, exposed to general view



Why, very well then. I hope here be truths.


This will last out a night in Russia

When nights are longest there. I'll take my leave,

And leave you to the hearing of the cause,

Hoping you'll find good cause to whip them all.


I think no less. Good morrow to your lordship.
morrow (n.) morning See Topics: Frequency count

Exit Angelo

Now, sir, come on. What was done to Elbow's wife,

once more?


Once, sir? There was nothing done to her once.


I beseech you, sir, ask him what this man did to

my wife.


I beseech your honour, ask me.


Well, sir, what did this gentleman to her?


I beseech you, sir, look in this gentleman's face.

Good Master Froth, look upon his honour; 'tis for a

good purpose. Doth your honour mark his face?
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count


Ay, sir, very well.


Nay, I beseech you, mark it well.


Well, I do so.


Doth your honour see any harm in his face?


Why, no.


I'll be supposed upon a book, his face is the
supposed (adj.) 3 malapropism for ‘deposed’

worst thing about him. Good, then; if his face be the

worst thing about him, how could Master Froth do the

constable's wife any harm? I would know that of your



He's in the right. Constable, what say you to it?


First, an it like you, the house is a respected
like (v.) 1 please, suit See Topics: Politeness
respected (adj.) malapropism for ‘suspected’

house; next, this is a respected fellow, and his mistress

is a respected woman.


By this hand, sir, his wife is a more respected

person than any of us all.


Varlet, thou liest; thou liest, wicked varlet. The
varlet (n.) 1 knave, rogue, rascal, ruffian

time is yet to come that she was ever respected with man,

woman, or child.


Sir, she was respected with him before he

married with her.


Which is the wiser here, Justice or Iniquity? Is

this true?


O thou caitiff, O thou varlet, O thou wicked
caitiff (n.) [sympathetic or contemptuous] miserable wretch, wretched creature

Hannibal! I respected with her before I was married
Hannibal (n.) malapropism for ‘cannibal’

to her? If ever I was respected with her, or she with

me, let not your worship think me the poor Duke's

officer. Prove this, thou wicked Hannibal, or I'll have

mine action of battery on thee.


If he took you a box o'th' ear, you might have

your action of slander, too.


Marry, I thank your good worship for it. What

is't your worship's pleasure I shall do with this wicked



Truly, officer, because he hath some offences in
discover (v.) 1 reveal, show, make known See Topics: Frequency count

him that thou wouldst discover, if thou couldst, let him

continue in his courses till thou know'st what they are.
course (n.) 2 habit, custom, practise, normal procedure


Marry, I thank your worship for it. Thou seest,

thou wicked varlet, now, what's come upon thee. Thou

art to continue now, thou varlet, thou art to continue.


Where were you born, friend?


Here in Vienna, sir.


Are you of fourscore pounds a year?


Yes, an't please you, sir.


So. What trade are you of, sir?


A tapster, a poor widow's tapster.
tapster (n.) inn waiter, drawer of ale


Your mistress' name?


Mistress Overdone.


Hath she had any more than one husband?


Nine, sir. Overdone by the last.


Nine? Come hither to me, Master Froth.

Master Froth, I would not have you acquainted with

tapsters; they will draw you, Master Froth, and you will
draw (v.) 14 empty, drain, exhaust

hang then. Get you gone, and let me hear no more of



I thank your worship. For mine own part, I

never come into any room in a taphouse but I am drawn
taphouse, tap-house (n.) tavern, alehouse



Well, no more of it, Master Froth. Farewell.

Exit Froth

Come you hither to me, Master Tapster. What's your

name, Master Tapster?




What else?


Bum, sir.


Troth, and your bum is the greatest thing about

you, so that, in the beastliest sense, you are Pompey the

Great. Pompey, you are partly a bawd, Pompey, howsoever
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between See Topics: Frequency count

you colour it in being a tapster, are you not?
colour (v.) 1 disguise, conceal, cloak

Come, tell me true. It shall be the better for you.


Truly, sir, I am a poor fellow that would live.


How would you live, Pompey? By being a

bawd? What do you think of the trade, Pompey? Is it a

lawful trade?


If the law would allow it, sir.


But the law will not allow it, Pompey; nor it

shall not be allowed in Vienna.


Does your worship mean to geld and splay all
splay (v.) sterilize, spay

the youth of the city?


No, Pompey.


Truly, sir, in my poor opinion, they will to't

then. If your worship will take order for the drabs and
drab (n.) harlot, slut, whore
order, take make arrangements

the knaves, you need not to fear the bawds.
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between See Topics: Frequency count
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count


There is pretty orders beginning, I can tell you.
order (n.) 1 arrangement, disposition, direction

It is but heading and hanging.
heading (n.) beheading


If you head and hang all that offend that way

but for ten year together, you'll be glad to give out a

commission for more heads. If this law hold in Vienna

ten year, I'll rent the fairest house in it after threepence
after (prep.) 2 at the rate of

a bay. If you live to see this come to pass, say Pompey
bay (n.) 5 living area divided off within a house, gable-end

told you so.


Thank you, good Pompey, and, in requital of
requital (n.) recompense, reward, repayment

your prophecy, hark you: I advise you, let me not find

you before me again upon any complaint whatsoever;

no, not for dwelling where you do. If I do, Pompey, I

shall beat you to your tent, and prove a shrewd Caesar
shrewd (adj.) 1 harsh, hard, severe

to you. In plain dealing, Pompey, I shall have you

whipped. So, for this time, Pompey, fare you well.


I thank your worship for your good counsel;

but I shall follow it as the flesh and fortune shall better


Whip me? No, no, let carman whip his jade.
carman (n.) carter, carrier, wagoner
jade (n.) 1 worn-out horse, hack, worthless nag

The valiant heart's not whipped out of his trade.



Come hither to me, Master Elbow. Come

hither, master constable. How long have you been in

this place of constable?
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count


Seven year and a half, sir.


I thought, by your readiness in the office, you
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function

had continued in it some time. You say, seven years



And a half, sir.


Alas, it hath been great pains to you; they do
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

you wrong to put you so oft upon't. Are there not men in

your ward sufficient to serve it?


Faith, sir, few of any wit in such matters. As they
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

are chosen, they are glad to choose me for them. I do it

for some piece of money, and go through with all.


Look you bring me in the names of some six or

seven, the most sufficient of your parish.
sufficient (adj.) able, capable, competent


To your worship's house, sir?


To my house. Fare you well.

Exit Elbow

What's o'clock, think you?


Eleven, sir.


I pray you home to dinner with me.


I humbly thank you.


It grieves me for the death of Claudio,

But there's no remedy.


Lord Angelo is severe.


                         It is but needful.

Mercy is not itself, that oft looks so;
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

Pardon is still the nurse of second woe.
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

But yet poor Claudio; there is no remedy.

Come, sir.


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